More pros­per­ity with a pur­pose

With 70 per cent of the 2017 Bud­get hav­ing been im­ple­mented, to­mor­row the coun­try will look for­ward to the 2018 Bud­get with a full ac­count of how the Labour Gov­ern­ment will pro­ceed to share the nation’s pros­per­ity among all Mal­tese and Goz­i­tan fam­i­lies.

The Malta Independent on Sunday - - DEBATE & ANALYSIS - Justyne Caru­ana

As Fi­nance Min­is­ter Ed­ward Sci­cluna noted, the high per­for­mance dur­ing the cur­rent year was reg­is­tered in a sce­nario in which Malta hosted the EU pres­i­dency and a gen­eral elec­tion was held in the past 12 months. The pres­i­dency was an un­prece­dented suc­cess and, over and above that, we were op­er­at­ing in an elec­tion year. De­spite this, we achieved the same im­ple­men­ta­tion rate as we had in the pre­vi­ous four years.

Some 265 mea­sures from the 2017 bud­get have been im­ple­mented so far this year, mak­ing a to­tal of 1,000 in­tro­duced over Labour’s past leg­is­la­ture. Fur­ther­more, around 100 pend­ing mea­sures from the 2014, 2015 and 2016 bud­gets were also im­ple­mented last year. This is cer­tainly a good ex­er­cise in ac­count­abil­ity for every­one to eval­u­ate, giv­ing a de­tailed fact­sheet to any­one who has doubts as to where all the many mil­lions in sur­plus have been di­rected.

For future gen­er­a­tions

Gone are the times when our fam­i­lies used to fear the bud­get speech and learn of harsher tax­a­tion and fur­ther fi­nan­cial bur­dens. Let us never for­get the ar­ro­gant at­ti­tudes of not so dis­tant ad­min­is­tra­tions, when a Fi­nance Min­is­ter reck­lessly laugh­ingly al­lo­cated fur­ther debt to our chil­dren while he and his col­leagues were keen on ‘burn­ing all that the coun­try had’! It is so dif­fer­ent to­day af­ter only four years of a labour-led gov­ern­ment with a nation that ea­gerly awaits, with a peace­ful mind, more pros­per­ity dur­ing the next 12 months.

With eco­nomic growth mov­ing from strength to strength and un­em­ploy­ment at the low­est level ever, this gov­ern­ment can lead the nation in look­ing be­yond to se­cure a healthy in­her­i­tance for future gen­er­a­tions. To­mor­row’s bud­get speech will clearly in­di­cate how this can be achieved through hard work and dili­gent plan­ning – a far cry from the ir­re­spon­si­ble and chronic ‘spend to­day and let our chil­dren pay to­mor­row’ men­tal­ity of pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tions un­til 2013.

Sta­tis­ti­cal facts

This week the Na­tional Statis­tics Of­fice pub­lished very en­cour­ag­ing fig­ures for Gozo, in­di­cat­ing growth in most sec­tors in re­cent months. The num­ber of res­i­dents in full-time em­ploy­ment in 2016 was 12,431, an in­crease of 5.7 per cent com­pared to 2015. More in­ter­est­ing is the fact that the pri­vate sec­tor ac­counted for 56.7 per cent of the to­tal.

Full-time em­ploy­ment in Gozo amounted to 9,382, an in­crease of 4.3 per cent com­pared to 2015, and 61.1 per cent of this was within the whole­sale and hospi­tal­ity ser­vices. Ac­com­mo­da­tion and food ser­vices ac­counted for 38 per cent of part-time em­ploy­ment. These statis­tics fur­ther prove the im­por­tance of tourism to Goz­i­tan life and adds fur­ther re­spon­si­bil­ity to gov­ern­ment and stake-

The so­cial sec­tor

My past ex­pe­ri­ence in the ac­tive age­ing sec­tor will al­ways be part of my new role as Min­is­ter for Gozo. We marked the first days of Oc­to­ber – in­ter­na­tion­ally ded­i­cated to the el­derly – with the open­ing of a new day care cen­tre for the el­derly in Qala, made pos­si­ble through an agree­ment with the Qala lo­cal coun­cil.

This is the fourth of its kind in Gozo, join­ing those at Xewk­ija, Taċ-Ċawla in Vic­to­ria and San­nat, with an­other planned for Żeb­buġ and more be­ing planned for the future. There has been a good re­sponse for these ser­vices from Gozo’s el­derly res­i­dents, par­tic­u­larly in those that pro­vide ICT and other train­ing cour­ses. It is im­por­tant that el­derly peo­ple feel part of the com­mu­nity and re­main ac­tive in their daily lives.

The gov­ern­ment will con­tinue to give pri­or­ity to this area, not least in Gozo where a new home for the el­derly is fast tak­ing shape in Għa­jn­sielem. An am­bi­tious elec­tion pledge is to bring the to­tal num­ber of long-term care beds avail­able in Gozo to 500.

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